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Obama: Money without reform won’t fix school system

Posted by on Sep. 28, 2010 at 11:37 AM
Cat
  • 6 Replies

 

Poll

Question: What would be the FIRST thing you change in education?

Options:

scrap the whole thing and start over

More Funding and/or equal funding for every student no matter where they go to school

Scrap standardized testing

improve curriculum - utilize more teaching methods - proven and cutting edge

improved technology access

change requierments for teaching - education wise

get rid of tenure


Only group members can vote in this poll.

Total Votes: 8

View Results

Ever sense Waiting for Superman came out and got noticed it seems like there has been daily conversation on Oprah, The View, Good Morning America, CNN, everywhere!  Which is great and I so wish I had seen this movie when I had the chance (not that Gasland wasn't wonderful, but if I had only known I so would have gone to both that day!!!!!).  Anyway - what would you all think of longer school years?  disregarding the whole money issue (i.e. there is none) - but do you think longer school years could be part of the answer or that we should start modeling after European schools and countries that are ranked higher then we are?  Do you think the problem with schools is our culture being against change? 
 
I'm starting to think that.  I'm really beginning to believe that part of the reason America is flagging is because we, as a country, have become resistent to change.  Okay, not everyone, but its something I hear more and more - and I wonder if that isn't the biggest impact to everything, but particularly the problems with the schools - that we refuse to force a change, a significant change - like moving to year-round or longer school years.  I'm all for year-round schools - and I can't understand why anyone thinks its a bad idea.  Why do we continue to base our school year on agriculture?  How many kids still work on the family farm? 
 
for anyone who hasn't heard of it or has only heard snippets - here is the website for the movie - http://www.waitingforsuperman.com/
 
 
 
 
 
and for the other side - http://www.aft.org/NotWaiting/
 
 
 
 
By John Springer
TODAY staff and wire
updated 9/27/2010 8:44:05 AM ET

Money alone isn't the cure for America's ailing school system, President Obama says.

Speaking to TODAY's Matt Lauer in the Green Room of the White House for nearly 30 minutes, Obama said that additional funding tied to significant reforms — including a longer school year and lifting teaching as a profession — is a much-needed fix.

"We can't spend our way out of it. I think that when you look at the statistics, the fact is that our per-pupil spending has gone up during the last couple of decades even as results have gone down," explained Obama, invited to appear by NBC as the network launched its weeklong " Education Nation" initiative.

"Obviously, in some schools money plays a big factor ... ," Obama said, pointing out that schools in the poorest areas often don't have up-to-date textbooks. "On the other hand, money without reform will not fix the problem." 

Obama said his administration's "reform agenda" includes increasing standards, finding and encouraging the best teachers, decreasing bureaucracy and deploying financial resources effectively. Teachers who fail to live up to expectations need to be given a chance to improve, he said, while those who do not should move on.

Story: Education reformer: 'We're in a crisis'

Longer school year?
Obama repeated his support for a longer school year after being asked about it by students from a sixth-grade class in Cincinatti, Ohio. He did not specify how long that school year should be, however he noted that U.S. students attend classes, on average, about a month less than children in most other advanced countries.

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"That month makes a difference. It means students are losing a lot of what they learn during the school year during the summer ... The idea of a longer school year, I think, makes sense," Obama said. "Now, that's going to cost some money ..., but I think that would be money well spent."

Vote: Do you support a longer school year?

The 20 students in Matt Cohen's class at Roll Hill Elementary School were so thrilled that President Obama answered their question about extending the school year that Cohen had to reply his answer three times.

"They were excited," said Cohen, who submitted the question online on the students' behalf. "Some of the students think that we should not have an extended school year because their brains need time to rest — that's what they said. Others think it is good ... it keeps them busy and out of trouble."

Role of teachers
Obama says his administration's Race to the Top initiative has been one of the "most powerful tools for reform" in many years. Through the program, states compete for $4 billion in funding by highlighting their plans for reform.

NBC News
President Barack Obama spoke to TODAY's Matt Lauer about education reform.

The president said he wants to work with teachers' unions, and he embraced the role of defending their members. But he said unions cannot and should not defend a status quo in which one-third of children are dropping out. He urged them not to be resistant to change, particularly in schools which he said have become "dropout factories."

"The vast majority of teachers want to do a good job ... We have to be able to identify teachers who are doing well," the president said. "Teachers who are not doing well, we have to give them the support and the training to do well. And ultimately, if some teachers are not doing a good job, they've gotta go."

While the nation’s poorer schools are of immediate concern, Obama said his administration is also concerned about the decline in math and science scores in middle-class districts, and hiring teachers is key to reversing that trend.

“My administration is announcing that we are going to specifically focus on training 10,000 new math and science teachers," he said. "We have to boost performance in that area. We used to rank at the top; we are now 21st in science, 25th in math. That is a sign of long-term decline that has to be reversed.”

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Reforms linked to economy
During the interview, the president returned several times to a discussion of the economy, job creation and the staggering unemployment rate that has hurt tax revenues at every level of government.

Story: Obama blasts GOP pledge as 'irresponsible'

"It's not that this is a jobless recovery. We've seen eight months in a row of private sector job growth ... The problem is that we just lost so many jobs because of the crisis that we've got a much bigger hole to fill," Obama said.

Asked if he was aware that some Americans think he is out of touch when it comes to jobs, Obama assured Lauer that the economy is forefront on his mind.

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"The fact of the matter is, as long as unemployment is as high as it is, as long as we haven't recovered as quickly as we should have, people are going to be be hurting," Obama said. "All I can communicate to the American people is that every single day, the thing that I wake up with and the thing I go to bed with is the fact that too many Americans are out there who are doing the right thing, working hard, taking the responsibilities seriously, and are still having a tough time in this economy."

Parental accountability
Obama reminded Lauer that he is a parent of school-age children, although his daughters, Sasha, 9, and Malia, 12, are both enrolled in private schools that Obama acknowledged are much better than the public schools in Washington, D.C.

Parents can and should do more to foster learning by introducing good study habits at home, he said.

"No matter how good the teacher, if the kid's coming home from school, and the parent isn't checking to see if they are doing their homework or watching TV, that's going to be a problem," he said. "And that, by the way, is true here in this White House. Malia and Sasha are great kids, and great students. But if you gave them a choice, they'd be happy to sit in front of the TV all night long, every night. At some point you have to say, ‘Your job, kid, right now, is to learn.’ ”

 

 

I am a: vaccinating; pro-choice; organic food eating; full-time working; single mom


toddler girl


 

by on Sep. 28, 2010 at 11:37 AM
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Replies (1-6):
OhiogirlinCali
by on Sep. 28, 2010 at 11:45 AM

I think parents are essential for a student's success, no matter what school district they attend.  If parents encourage their children to live up to their potential and emphasize the importance of education, I think their children will do better overall.

As for the schools, I don't think money alone can solve their problems.  I think finding innovative and interesting new ways to teach the material and keeping the students interested in what they're learning would be very useful.  Finding good teachers who are enthusiastic and creative can solve many of the issues, I believe.

ecagle
by Kegel on Sep. 28, 2010 at 12:19 PM

 

Quoting OhiogirlinCali:

I think parents are essential for a student's success, no matter what school district they attend.  If parents encourage their children to live up to their potential and emphasize the importance of education, I think their children will do better overall.

As for the schools, I don't think money alone can solve their problems.  I think finding innovative and interesting new ways to teach the material and keeping the students interested in what they're learning would be very useful.  Finding good teachers who are enthusiastic and creative can solve many of the issues, I believe.

 Ok, I couldn't pick one answer to the poll...but thought I'd respond to you ;)

My background: I was a high school exchange student to both Ecuador (summer) and Spain (year)...I got to visit a school in Ecuador and went to school in Spain.

Here's the thing: education can be GOOD without lots of money.  America has this idea that STUFF makes something good....sorta a quantity over quality thing.  Our classrooms are colorful...walk into a 1st graders class in Spain and there is almost nothing on the walls...go into one in the states and your mind is on color overload.  Spain has a better school system.

A few things they do: 

1) Textbooks are purchased by parents.  Children keep them and write in them.  They are also much cheaper (probably because parents have to BUY them).

2) No standardized testing, although there are "state tests" they are very different from our standardized testing.  All tests are essay tests.  It was so weird for me to do the math test: We were only given 2-3 problems on the test, but we had to explain HOW to solve the problems in our own words after solving it.

3) As our Swedish exchange student is discovering (in history class): History class in Europe is about reading and then discussing and evaluating the information.  It's not about facts and flashcards....it's driving her CRAZY here to have to make flashcards (for a grade) in her history class.

4) Finally, I agree with Ohiogrl: it's all about the parents.  Parents are key to a childs success...they will fight for that child, check to make sure they are understanding the work etc.  Many parents fail to assume that role, they think education falls soley on the school system.

pagancuriosity
by Bronze Member on Sep. 28, 2010 at 12:37 PM

I would have to say I agree with both of you. My husband teaches 7th and 8th grade history at a local school here and he agrees is that the first thing you need to do is stop teaching kids how to test, and that includes standardized testing. It's all about memorization and nothing about critical thinking. His principal always stresses to study test scores and not how the kids actually think.  He also can't stand the parents that take such a piss-poor approach to their child's education. He believes that parents are the primary educators, with schools re-enforcing.

CatRose15
by Cat on Sep. 28, 2010 at 12:43 PM


Quoting ecagle:

 

Quoting OhiogirlinCali:

I think parents are essential for a student's success, no matter what school district they attend.  If parents encourage their children to live up to their potential and emphasize the importance of education, I think their children will do better overall.

As for the schools, I don't think money alone can solve their problems.  I think finding innovative and interesting new ways to teach the material and keeping the students interested in what they're learning would be very useful.  Finding good teachers who are enthusiastic and creative can solve many of the issues, I believe.

 Ok, I couldn't pick one answer to the poll...but thought I'd respond to you ;)

My background: I was a high school exchange student to both Ecuador (summer) and Spain (year)...I got to visit a school in Ecuador and went to school in Spain.

Here's the thing: education can be GOOD without lots of money.  America has this idea that STUFF makes something good....sorta a quantity over quality thing.  Our classrooms are colorful...walk into a 1st graders class in Spain and there is almost nothing on the walls...go into one in the states and your mind is on color overload.  Spain has a better school system.

A few things they do: 

1) Textbooks are purchased by parents.  Children keep them and write in them.  They are also much cheaper (probably because parents have to BUY them).  I would do this - and in poorer schools it's not like the school buys them textbooks to begin with.  If the parents were responsible for buying them I wonder if it would drive the cost down, and if there woudl be more community effort to raise money to buy the books. 

2) No standardized testing, although there are "state tests" they are very different from our standardized testing.  All tests are essay tests.  It was so weird for me to do the math test: We were only given 2-3 problems on the test, but we had to explain HOW to solve the problems in our own words after solving it.  Both exchange students we had the year I graduated high school ran into the same thing - they were just so baffled over how we could test the way we do. 

3) As our Swedish exchange student is discovering (in history class): History class in Europe is about reading and then discussing and evaluating the information.  It's not about facts and flashcards....it's driving her CRAZY here to have to make flashcards (for a grade) in her history class.  They learn critical thinking and problem solving - two things that this country is severely falling behind in...  

Flash cards work with 3 year olds.  I don't think rote memorization has ever helped anyone retain knowledge.  I know many people who bombed anatomy and physiology because it was rote memorization, but did really good at classes that focused on debate and discussion. 

4) Finally, I agree with Ohiogrl: it's all about the parents.  Parents are key to a childs success...they will fight for that child, check to make sure they are understanding the work etc.  Many parents fail to assume that role, they think education falls soley on the school system.

I don't see that changing in some situations, but I do agree with you. 


I am a: vaccinating; pro-choice; organic food eating; full-time working; single mom


toddler girl


 

tasukete
by on Sep. 28, 2010 at 3:32 PM

The first thing I would do is get rid of this constant testing.  "Teaching to the test" isn't working.  Not only does it bore children but it doesn't teach them how to use the information that they've learned.

I'm also in favour of longer school days and school years as well.  In our district we even have some schools that are year-round schools and that works well for those students.

As far as parents being the primary educators, that's great.  In a perfect world that would work out fine.  But there are many parents out there that simply aren't cut-out for that role.  My mother for example, had to work all the time. She had neither the time, education nor patience to be a primary educator to me.  She also wasn't well versed enough in current affairs to be able to help me in my civics classes nor was she impartial enough to help me form ideas for my arguments.  I don't think that I'm any worse for it.  In fact, it may have helped to make me a more independent person.

As far as the purchase of textbooks falling on the parents/family, it may drive the cost down but that's no guarantee.  Take for instance the cost of college textbooks.  Now imagine the cost multiplied for families with multple children.  Now imagine that things don't change with the leading publisher of K-12 school textbooks and families are forced to purchase on their own constant revisions.  The price could be quite steep for families.  In poorer areas where the community is already buckling under years of poverty, having to choose between purchasing textbooks or food that choice is going to be much easier.

Education reform isn't going to be easy or cheap.  It's going to take a major rewiring of peoples view of how things should be done in order for things to get better.

ThatTXMom
by Platinum Member on Sep. 28, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Wish he could figure out that throwing money at sinking ships won't keep the ship from sinking regardless of into which ocean the ship is sinking. 

If he gets it for education, why can't he get it for the economy in general? 

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